Northants bowlers emulated their individual successes of last year by winning two titles at the English Bowling Federation national championships at Skegness.
West Ward’s Mick Duell followed in the footsteps of county president Bob Warters by retaining the veterans singles title for the county, while Blackstones’ Darren Middleton and Stephen Harris provided Northants with their first-ever success in the under 25 open pairs event.
Harris (19) was denied a second title by his sister Louise’s boyfriend Jonathan West (Lincs) in the final of the under 25 singles.
Duell came from 15-17 down in the semi-final to defeat North Cambs’ Tony Harley 21-19, but powered his way into a comfortable lead in the final before defeating Humberside’s Dave Smith 21-12.
“It has always been my ambition to win a county singles title, play for my county and win a national title and I have done it all in one season,” said Duell, who made his debut for the Newton Trophy side this summer.
Middleton and Harris may have been the underdogs against Nottinghamshire’s Will Marshall and Jack Emmerson in the under 25 open pairs decider, but they quickly established a 12-5 lead, and while Notts got within two shots at 11-13 after 16 ends, the Stamford boys picked up five shots over the next three ends to claim the title at 18-12.
The county men had three semi-finalists in Peter Cox (Langtoft Pearl) in the two-bowl singles, Graham Jackson and Roger Martin (City of Peterborough) in the senior pairs, and Parkway’s Stuart Reynolds, James Harford and Trevor Collins, substituting for Mike Robertson, in the two-bowl triples.
The women also had three semi-finalists in finals debutant Joan Butcher (Whittlesey Town) in the champion of champions singles, Pat Bussey and Sheila Craig (Conservative) in the senior pairs and Sarah and Val Newson (Parkway) in the pairs, although Chris Morton replaced Leamington-bound Sarah in the semi-final which was lost on an extra end.
Not for the first time a clash with the Bowls England national championships at Leamington had an effect on matters at Skegness with players double booked.
Parkway’s Simon Law missed two intended engagements on the opening day at Skegness because of his involvement in the national fours at Leamington, Neil Wright substituting for him in the mixed pairs, but without a reserve available, Wright and Tony Scarr were forced to play one short in the three-bowl triples where they almost pulled off a remarkable victory – they lost on the last end to Humberside.
With Mike Robertson (Parkway) also involved in the national fours and triples, Trevor Collins substituted for him in the two-bowl triples, while Sarah Newson, having reached the semi-finals of the pairs with her mother Val, dashed over to Leamington for the mixed pairs, and so Chris Morton came in as a replacement.
HUNTS AT LEAMINGTON
Hunts bowlers continued to find it a struggle to make an impression on the Bowls England national championships at Leamington.
Stuart Popple’s rink of Stuart Reynolds, James Harford and Simon Law reached the last 16 of the fours, beating Herefordshire (22-20) and Essex (22-12) before losing 21-23 to Northumberland, while the other Parkway rink of Brian Martin, Ean Morton, Mike Robertson and Tristan Morton went out in the second round, 16-24 to Oxfordshire.
Both Hunts representatives in the triples went out at the second round stage. Parkway’s Ean Morton, Mike Robertson and Tristan Morton were beaten 11-15 by Cambridgeshire, while Warboys’ Harry Ward, Lewis Baker and Nicky Brett were pipped 19-20 by the Isle of Wight.
Nigel Eagle (Parkway) was involved in two events at the weekend.
He teamed up with Sarah Newson in the mixed pairs where they lost 13-23 to Kent in the opening round, and then he was beaten 19-21 in the second round of the senior singles by Attilio Ciampini (Middlesex) after a 21-15 defeat of Keith Hinder (Glos).